Vol. VI No. 21 - Tuesday
July 17, - July 23, 2007



Home
Automania
News
Book-Movies-Music
Columns
Community
Happenings
Dining Out & Entertainment
Features
Letters
Social Scene
Travel
Cartoons
Current Movies in
Chiangmai's Cinemas
Advertising Rates
Classifieds
Back Issues
Updated every Tuesday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern


NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Small turnout at ex-TRT party protest

Chiang Mai hotel occupancy rates plunge

Royal Floral Expo reopens on 3rd of August

Australian police donate computers to CM Police

Media up in arms against national security bill

Thai Airways increases fuel surcharge

CCTV leads police to arrest gang of alleged thieves

Japanese tourist arrested for snatching wristwatch

Cabinet bans cell phone use while driving

Border patrol stumbles across marijuana plantation

Thai children unmask the stigma of living with HIV/AIDS

Small turnout at ex-TRT party protest

Saksit Meesubkwang
Former members of the defunct Thai Rak Thai party gathered to protest against the government in Lamphun province.
Organizers had expected up to 20 thousand supporters to show up but the turn out was less than expected when only about 3,000 gathered in a peaceful rally.
Government officials, military personnel from the Special l task force of the 7th Infrantry Regiment and police were present during the gathering to ensure the protest would remain orderly.
The rally leaders included Veera Musikapong, Jakrapob Penkae, Juttuporn Promphan, Natthawut Saikua were also among the 20 former TRT party members from the Northern and the Northeastern regions including Surapong Tovichakchaikul, the former TRT for Chiang Mai who also supported the Lamphun rally.


Chiang Mai hotel occupancy rates plunge

Thai Hotels Association vice-president, Mr. Prakit Chinamourphong, announced that the average occupancy rate at Chiang Mai hotels during the first five months of this year had plunged to around 30 per cent. Some hotels in the city even suffered single digit occupancy rates.
The news of the low occupancy rates came as Dr. Suvit Yodmani, the Tourism Minister met with leading Chiang Mai hoteliers urge him and his ministry to develop and promote the tourism image of the city as a high-end tourist destination, highlighting its time honored Lanna culture and erasing its past reputation as a backpackers’ haunt.
Dr. Suvit met with general managers and representatives from leading Chiang Mai hotels such as Four Seasons Resort, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Holiday Inn and the soon-to-open Shangri-La Hotel.
Chiang Mai hoteliers said they were on hand to support and cooperate with all tourism development and marketing projects launched by the tourism ministry in order to turn Chiang Mai into a quality destination, and as a result enable the city to attract more high-end tourists.
According to one long time hotelier, stronger international marketing efforts need to be developed to attract more tourism to the area on a year round basis. He added that the many tourist organizations in the city who market Chiang Mai independently should unite to create an all encompassing campaign to promote Chiang Mai to the world as a destination for all walks of life, not just high end tourists.
Historically hotels and tourist related businesses have depended on the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and their marketing campaigns to attract visitors to Thailand. This year Phuket and Koh Samui have enjoyed a surge in tourist business while Chiang Mai has seen a decline in numbers.
Chiang Mai hotels and tourism related businesses suffered greatly during March and April this year when fires polluted the skies of the city forcing thousands of would be tourists to cancel their visit to the city.
Dr. Suvit said he plans to visit the Chiang Mai in the middle of this month to obtain greater knowledge of the destination and get a first-hand account of issues facing the tourism industry here, such as the urgent need to have a dedicated convention center and the need to attract more international direct flights. CMM Reporters/TTG


Royal Floral Expo reopens on 3rd of August

The majestic Hor Kham Luang pavilion will be one of the highlights at the Royal Flora Expo that re-opens next month.

The Royal Flora Expo will finally re-open its gates in August according to Maitree Yaowarat, Director of Royal Floral Expo.
The Hor Kham Luang pavilion will be highlighted as one of the grandest attractions of the park that has been closed to the public since last January, said Yaowarat.
As preparations are under way for the re-launch to welcome back the general public, the agencies responsible for oversight and management have been resolved.
According to Director Maitree, who has been officially appointed by the Department of Agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, together with other agricultural officials will jointly operate the 470 rai of land.
The Director added that during the past few months’ workers have been busy improving many of the sites where guest countries had built, planted and maintained their floral exhibitions during the original run of the event.
It is also expected that the well known and attractive Netherlands’s tulip garden will be in full bloom in November as well as other impressive floral exhibitions.
More trees have been planted to beautify the grounds and several of the buildings have been renovated.
The improvement work is about 90 percent complete and on target to be finished by next month. The gardens will be cared for by 30 agricultural officials and 40 security guards.
The park will also serve as a multi-purpose event area as the Ministry of Commerce along with other agencies have planned to organize the OTOP SELLECT 2007 fun-fair the last week of July to promote local businesses in Chiang Mai.
The fair which will include high quality OTOP products have been selected from throughout the country to be sold at the floral exhibition. CMM Reporters


Australian police donate computers to CM Police

Australian police senior liaison officer Mark McKiernan hands over two computers to the Chiang Mai Human Trafficking Suppression Office.

Saksit Meesubkwang
In a joint effort to combat human trafficking the Region 5 Police office and members of the Australian Federal police gathered at a seminar to exchange knowledge and exchange ideas at a recent seminar.
The seminar organizers invited legal experts and minorities and human rights organizations to participate as speakers. Human trafficking is still prevalent in the Northern provinces with traffickers transporting women and children who end up working in illegal trade such as prostitution. The problem areas continue to be the areas of Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Fang, Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.
Police Major Gen. Phanthuwat Srivalai said that the seminar was organized to provide knowledge to human trafficking suppression officers and the methods they employ to avoid arrest.
The police are coordinating with neighboring districts of Chiang Mai and working to educate the authorities on better detection methods to suppress these activities.
Mr. Mark McKiernan, Senior liaison officer of the Australian Federal Police in Chiang Mai praised the Thai police for their efficiency and speed in handling many of the human trafficking cases. The Australian Federal Police also donated two computers to assist the Chiang Mai Human Trafficking Suppression Office with their ongoing efforts.


Media up in arms against national security bill

Thailand’s media has petitioned Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont against planned legislation to impose additional internal security measures in addition to the emergency rule and martial law which have already been imposed.
Representatives of a broad spectrum of media organizations, including the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, a human rights group and several former senators called on Gen. Surayud to never endorse such a security-keeping bill, arguing that it would otherwise deprive the Thai people of their basic human rights and freedom of expression.
The bill, if passed into law, empowers the army chief who will automatically serve as head of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) to order his assigned officers to carry out searches of any suspect’s residence and to impose a ban on people’s gathering in public places under any situation that is deemed sensitive to security.
The bill, approved by the cabinet in June, is being scrutinized by the Council of State, the government’s legal advisory body.
The premier said that he was willing to listen to differing point of views to revise the bill to accommodate their concerns.
Gothom Arya, member of the National Legislative Assembly, planned to open a public hearing at Parliament this week to discuss the controversial legislation. TNA


Thai Airways increases fuel surcharge

Thai Airways International (THAI) announced that it will apply new rates to their fuel surcharge on tickets which went into effect last July 15th in line with rising global fuel prices.
Wallop Bhukkanasut, THAI Executive Vice President for Commercial Affairs said the new rate will be applied to all routes operated by the national flag carrier. This will reflect in tickets issued by local and international ticketing agencies worldwide.
The new rates for certain routes such as flights between Bangkok and Auckland, Bangkok and New York and Los Angeles will carry an additional US $10.00 surcharge. TNA


CCTV leads police to arrest gang of alleged thieves

Gang targeted gas stations in Chiang Mai and Lamphun

The youngest one is only 15 years old and the oldest is 23. The gang made up of six where caught on camera holding up a PTT gas station in Lamphun at gunpoint when their thieving ways came to an end.
Lamphun police traced the robbery on video from a close circuit television camera and were able to detain the six alleged criminals.
Police Lt. General Kittithat Ruenthip, Commissioner of Provincial Police Bureau, Region 5, and Pol Maj Gen Nathanon Singhara na Ayuthaya, Commander of Lamphun Provincial Police held a press conference to announce the arrest of the gang members.
The police said the gang members were accused of robbing the PTT gas station in Lamphun, and all the suspects Nathapong Kam-aie, 22, Natthawut Burikham, 23, Somkid Boonju, 23, Prasit Kanthiya, 18, Ke, 17, Bird, 17 and Dream, 15 years old were all charged with robbery.
They were in the possession of a shotgun, a 38 caliber pistol, 22 rounds of ammunition, four motorcycles and walkie-talkie radios along with 15 other items.
The police said that on June 27 two of the culprits used pistols to rob money from the attendants at PPT Gas Station in Tambon Muang-nga, Muang Lamphun District.
During police questioning all the suspects confessed to their crimes and admitted they also had committed robberies in Chiang Mai. Thai News


Japanese tourist arrested for snatching wristwatch

Khajohn Boonpath
Police officers in Pai detained a 58 year old Japanese woman and charged her with stealing a wristwatch from an unsuspecting Thai national while he was enjoying an afternoon swim with his family at the Thapai Hot Springs.
Mr. Phuchong Ruakaew, 48, of Tambon Sobpong in Mae Hong Son province told police that his watch had been stolen by a Japanese tourist when he had removed it and placed in his shoulder bag while he went in for a swim.
He told officers that before the theft he sat on a bench waiting for his relatives who were swimming when a Japanese female ask to sit with him. The victim then removed his ring and watch and put them in his shoulder bag along with his wallet and went for a swim. Soon afterwards the Japanese lady got up and left.
When one of Mr. Ruakaew relatives noticed that the shoulder bag had been untied he went in pursuit of the woman and called out to the guards not to let her motorcycle out, but the woman refused to stop. The guards gave chase and radioed police officers who managed to apprehend her at a Pai resort. Police officers invited her for questioning at Pai Police Station.
The woman was identified as Mrs. Yuriko Nariyama and a resident of Kobe, Japan and had been staying at house on Khlong Chon Prathan Road, Chiang Mai where she had lived for two years. Initially she denied any wrongdoing, but during a search the police discovered the missing wristwatch in her pants pocket.


Cabinet bans cell phone use while driving

In an attempt to reduce road accidents resulting from the use of mobile phones by motorists, Thailand’s cabinet approved in principle a ban on the use of cell phones and other communications equipment by motorists while they are driving, according to a government spokesman.
However, motorists are allowed to use hands-free communications equipment, he said.
The green light on the issue was made by the Cabinet following a proposal by the National Police Bureau.
Exceptions will be given, however, to the drivers of police, military, ambulance and private rescue foundation vehicles, the spokesman said. TNA


Border patrol stumbles across marijuana plantation

About 300 kilos of marijuana destined for sale in the Pai area was destroyed on July 9 by border patrol officers of the 336th Mekong base.

Khajohn Boonpath
Border Patrol Officers of the 336th Mekong Base on routine patrol came across a relatively large marijuana plantation in the area of Yod Kho Sung on Doi Huay Hway, Amphur Pai. According to the authorities the pot was being grown for sale to tourists Pai.
Police Major Piyaphongs Chivachanaphorn, Commander of the 336th Mekong Base Division, stated the plantation covered an area of about 1 rai and the illegal plants were ready to be harvested.
The Commander ordered the removal of the marijuana which weighed in at about 300 kilos.
Many hilltribe villages around the mountainous areas of Amphur Pai and Amphur Pang Mapha are known for growing marijuana and poppy which is then sold to tourists who visit Pai.


Thai children unmask the stigma of living with HIV/AIDS

Nattha Keenapan
On a stage inside Chiang Mai University’s Art Museum, children donned masks in order to enact a play entitled, ‘Who am I? Why am I here?’ The drama, which was performed before a standing room-only audience, gave voice to the pain, fears and hopes the young actors have as children living with HIV/AIDS in Thailand.
“Do we dare take off our masks?” one of the youths asked the other 24 children sharing the stage. “Don’t you know what people will do to us if they know who we are – what we have? We are not living with a terrible illness, but we are living in a terrible world.”
The show marked the children’s eighth performance and the one-year anniversary of the first staging of the play in Thailand. ‘Who am I? Why am I here?’ is part of an ongoing project to promote creative activities for some 400 Thai children between the ages of 10 and 16 who are living with HIV.
Initiated in 2003, the UNICEF-supported project is run by the We Understand Group, a non-governmental organization. The program uses drawing, painting, photography and drama to build children’s confidence and help them overcome the discrimination they face in their daily lives.
“People in this society still don’t understand enough about HIV/AIDS,” says the Project Coordinator for We Understand, Chutima Saisengjan. “Children living with HIV/AIDS still suffer greatly from discrimination due to this lack of understanding. We found that the arts could be used to address this.”
Ms. Saisengjan has seen marked changes in the children’s behavior as the project has progressed. The young actors’ growing confidence is reflected by the way in which they now end the play. While many of the children were reluctant to remove their masks in earlier performances, they now take them off without hesitation and face the audience, ready to answer any questions that they pose.
“I feel that I love myself more,” says Aom, 15. “In the past, I didn’t even want to wake up; I didn’t want to meet anyone. But now I can see my value. I am encouraged every time I hear the audience applaud.”
In May 2006, the children performed in Bangkok for Nane Annan and other high-level officials and dignitaries. Ms. Annan was so moved by the performance that she arranged for a film of the play to be screened at the XVI International AIDS conference in Toronto last year. In addition to the play, the conference screened another film entitled ‘The Sea Has a Secret’, which features the children’s voices and art work.
This month the children will stage their final performance of the drama for the Prime Minister of Thailand, General Surayud Julanont, at the National AIDS Conference in Bangkok. Next year, the project will expand to reach 90 more children across the country.
“They have proven that they can do it,” says the children’s drama teacher, Panda Thapanangkun. “HIV/AIDS is not an obstacle to learning. Instead, the pressures they feel in their lives are motivating them to communicate with the world.”
Article reprinted with permission from UNICEF.



Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
209/5 Moo 6, T.Faham,
A.Muang, Chiang Mai 50000
Tel. 053 852 557, 081-302 0126 Fax. 053 260 738
e-mail: [email protected]
www.chiangmai-mail.com
Administration: [email protected]
Advertising: [email protected]
[email protected]
Subscription: [email protected]

Copyright © 2004 Chiangmai Mail. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Advertisement